No Proscenium Podcast Appearance about Safety & Tours

There’s a lot going on in escape rooms right now. Noah Nelson invited us back to the No Proscenium Podcast to cover the news for their listeners.

No Proscenium's purple "NP" logo.

In the first half of the episode, we talk about the tragedy in Poland and basic safety in escape rooms.

In the second half of the episode, we encourage you to join us on a tour to some of the best escape rooms in the United States. We are so excited about our two Escape, Immerse, Explore tours this summer. We hope to see you in New Orleans or San Francisco!

The Episode

No Proscenium Episode 183: Checking in with Room Escape Artist on the Poland Fire & More

Conversation Cheat Sheet

  • 00:05:29 – We talk about our nocturnal writing and email answering tendencies
  • 00:07:00 – Background on the escape room fire in Poland
  • 00:09:50 – Impact of non-standard inspections in Poland
  • 00:10:10 – Parallels to Ghost Ship rave fire in CA – ripple effects through the industry still felt today
  • 00:12:57 – Explaining new safety content standards for REA posts (2019)
  • 00:15:20 – Why we landed on the safety standards we did
  • 00:17:25 – Noah references a scary story about being stuck in an escape room after a power failed and the mag lock didn’t release
  • 00:18:45 – Difficulty of getting the level of regulation right
  • 00:19:45 – Call to action for players to help revise pre-2019 reviews to include safety standards
  • 00:22:10 – The troubles of buying insurance for Escape Immerse Explore tours
  • 00:24:40 – Noah asks about David’s live TV interview in response to the Poland fire
  • 00:28:50 – Foreshadowing and warning signs leading up to the escape room fire in Poland
  • 00:30:30 – David talks about his perception of the Poland safety mindset when he visited a year and a half ago
  • 00:33:12 – Basic steps escape room owners can take to achieve a baseline level of safety
  • 00:34:44 – David ruins Santa Claus for Noah 🎅
  • 00:35:25 – Hard segue into Escape Immerse Explore tours!
  • 00:35:51 – Details on the San Francisco tour
  • 00:38:53 – Details on the New Orleans (or as Noah calls it: Nawlins) tour
  • 00:44:44 – Teaser: Lore conversation, for a future podcast!
  • 00:45:15 – Star Trek reference into TV-watching preferences and Honest Trailers

Thank you to Theresa Piazza for this wonderful conversation index.

Come to our February Meetup in San Francisco

We will be in town later this month for the Immersive Design Summit and we’d love to meet you!

Whether you’re a local or you’re in town for IDS, if you enjoy escape rooms, we’d love to hang out.

Two smiley face stick figures carrying the final two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into place.

We invite all escape rooms creators, designers, players, enthusiasts, bloggers… and the escape room curious to meet up at the famed, Jesse’s house!

The evening will be a detailed immersive experience creating the feeling that you’re at an escape room meetup in the home of a kind individual from the local escape room community.

Details

  • Friday, February 22, 2019
  • 9pm – Midnight
  • Jesse’s House, 72 Lansing St, San Francisco
  • You must RSVP (EventBrite). We have a maximum capacity of 40 people. Please do not flake.

FAQ

Who is Jesse?

Jesse is a member of the escape room enthusiast community who has graciously invited us, and all of you, to his house. He’s also the Trivium Games tech guy.

What transit options do you recommend?

Jesse’s house is a 10-minute walk from Montgomery BART or 15-minute walk from the Caltrain depot. There is on-street parking if you’re lucky/ patient, but it’s a nightlife-y neighborhood so paid parking abounds.

We’re probably going to take a Lyft.

Should I know anything else about this location?

There are stairs and cats. The cats will likely be hiding, but their fur will be present.

What can I bring?

Please bring a drink or snack to share! Yes, it can be alcoholic. No, it doesn’t have to be.

Are you giving a talk?

Nope! This is just a casual meetup for hanging out with like-minded folks who live nearby or happen to be in town at the same time.

RSVP while we still have space.

Farewell to RISE Escape Rooms & the Fate of their Games

Hijacked

Rise Escape Rooms is closing their three outstanding escape rooms today. These games each impressed us, in different ways.

Spellbound won a 2017 Golden Lock-In Award.

Luckily, the games won’t be moving too far.

Book tickets to Escape Immerse Explore: New Orleans 2019… and you can still play them!

Interview with RISE

We caught up with Mindi Plaisance, owner of RISE Escape Rooms, to talk about these changes.

What brought about RISE’s change in direction?

Mindi: We are family owned and operated. We are hands on with every aspect of both RISE Haunted House and RISE Escape Rooms. Our team quickly became escape room enthusiasts and felt we had the creative talent to bring immersive games to our community.

As successful as our games were, we realized that juggling the escape rooms along our rapidly growing Halloween attraction and extremely involved children was too much on our plate. We didn’t want to sacrifice the quality of our product so we decided that focusing all our attention on one industry would give us the opportunity to provide a great seasonal event.

Bookie

What was your favorite part of owning an escape room?

Mindi:Personally, my favorite part was the creative process. I like the challenge of building unique rooms that are immersive, have a variety of puzzles, and flow well… games that are challenging, but not impossible.  

Will your escape rooms live on?

Mindi: We have local buyers for all three games:

The Bookie will be going to the Clue Carré newest location in New Orleans.

Hijacked and Spellbound will be going to the 13th Gate Escape in Baton Rouge. If I know Dwayne, he will put his own spin on our games, so I am looking forward to see what he’s got in that ever-creative mind of his.

Image via RISE Escape Rooms

What is on the horizon for RISE?

Mindi:We are considering a 4th Dark attraction for Halloween as well as transforming our Hayride attraction into a Christmas show. The details are still in the works, but we are definitely sticking to seasonal. 

We love your style. Will we ever see more escape rooms from you?

Mindi: We still have our 5-minute games that we will run through Halloween. I am sure we will be turning those over at some point. 

If someone approached our team on a consulting basis and our schedule permitted it, we’d be open to that idea, but we won’t actively be seeking to get into the game design business.

In-game: The gamespace looks exactly like the interior cabin of a commercial airliner.

Interview with Clue Carré & 13th Gate Escape

After getting the news from Mindi, we reached out to Megan Mouton, owner of Clue Carré, and Dwayne Sanburn, owner of 13th Gate Escape, to learn what we can expect from their production of RISE’s games.

When do you expect the RISE games to reopen?

Megan: The Bookie will hopefully be ready by May. We will be opening it at our 3rd location, which will be inside of Surge Trampoline Park.

Dwayne: We aren’t sure exactly how long it will take to move Spellbound and Hijacked, but we are planning on having them open before your tour in July.

What changes are you making?

Megan: We are not changing much in The Bookie. We have plans to improve and tweak some puzzles, but the overall puzzle structure will be the same.

At this point, we are also planning to make it a 45-minute game, to keep players flowing during their jump time at the trampoline park. We’ll have the option to extend it back to 60 minutes if we feel the 45-minute model isn’t working.

Dwayne: Both games are very solid. We probably will only be making minor changes.

If someone has already played and loved these games at RISE, should they replay them?

Megan: We will not be marketing The Bookie as a game to replay if you have played it at Rise.

Dwayne: It’s doubtful that we will be making enough changes to warrant a replay of either Hijacked or Spellbound.

Visit Spellbound, Hijacked, and The Bookie this July

We will miss RISE Escape Rooms. Their work is phenomenal and we’ll be sad not to stop in Tickfaw on this summer’s tour.

We highly encourage seasonal travelers to check out the other attractions at RISE.

We are, however, incredibly excited the games will be nearby and that we’ll get to see them again this summer at Clue Carré and 13th Gate Escape.

REA Records an Episode with the On Board Games Podcast

On Board Games stoplight meeple logo

We had an amazing conversation with Donald Dennis of the On Board Games Podcast. This was a substantial, challenging, and interesting discussion about what makes for a great tabletop puzzle game experience, some of the negative trends we’re seeing, and where we hope the genre is going.

OBG 333: Hint System and Bottlenecking

Timestamps & Relevant Links

At 1 hour 40 minutes in length, it’s a long conversation. We broke out and timestamped the conversation so that you can zero in on the topics that interest you most.

The meatiest parts of the conversation are bolded.

0:00 – Introductions

3:10 – Escape room tours & how we go about constructing them

5:20 – About Room Escape Artist & how we approach reviews

7:41 – What tabletop games have we been playing lately? Pandemic Season 1, Exit: The Game – Sinister Manor (review to come), Unlock: The Tonipal’s Treasure, Journal29 & its sequel Journal29 Revelation (review to come, eventually), and Librarians Almanac (review not yet published).

13:50 – What has Donald been playing? Fortune, Ticket To Ride: Nordic Countries, Key Forge

19:00 – Our desire to play games that are easy to pick up without learning tons of rules

20:00 – How many escape rooms we’ve played, how we fund this, our new Patreon, how we operate, and what we want to transform REA into

25:45 – 11 Principles of Tabletop Escape Game Design

28:00 – The rise and fall of Choose Your Own Adventure books and what they mean for tabletop escape games

30:40 – Our favorite easily purchasable tabletop escape game

33:00 – Our favorite more niche tabletop escape game

36:00 – Detailed discussion on the Unlock, Exit, ThinkFun, and Tale of Ord games

57:00 – Tabletop games & expectation-setting

1:00:00 – Detailed discussion of subscription games (Escape The Crate, Cypher House, Dispatch, Hunt A Killer, Mysterious Package Company, Finders Seekers, Lock Paper Scissors)

1:19:00 – Some of the stranger puzzle games we’ve found (Prototype HARP, printable Thingiverse Room Escape, Cryptogram Puzzle Post, and Enigma Emporium)

1:25:00 – Board games with a puzzley or mystery component (Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Tales of the Mythos, Detective: The Modern Crime Boardgame)

1:27:30 – We answer an assortment of questions from Twitter & Boardgame Geek… and we showed some love to Time Stories, Deckscape, and Escape Tales

1:38:30 – David makes a definitive statement regarding the character of Han Solo.

Escape Room News: January 2019

Art deco news bulletin kiosk.

The monthly escape room newsletter is a new feature on Room Escape Artist. Please share your news with us.

International News

On January 4, 2019, 5 people died in a fire in an escape room in Koszalin, Poland.

In Theaters

  • Earlier this month, Escape Room (the movie) opened in theaters. Read our review.

Los Angeles, CA

  • Mister and Mischief’s limited run Escape From Godot will be returning Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays March 1-24. It will be at The YARD Theater in Los Angeles, CA. Get your tickets while they last.
  • Level Games opens in North Hollywood, CA. Level Games is a partnership between two local companies, Arcane Escape Rooms and Escape Chronicles, taking over the space that was previously Escapades LA. The Escapades LA games Doggie Dog World and Disrupted Decades will remain in operation for a short time under the management of Level Games. If you haven’t yet played these games, you still have time! There are also brand new escape games and other projects in the works. Level Games will soon announce more details about a dedicated gaming / event space, as well as some alternative immersive experiences.

San Francisco, CA

  • Room Escape Artist announced Escape, Immerse, Explore: The Palace. Visit Palace Games with us June 1-3, 2019. On this tour you will play 4 incredible escape rooms, including the Golden Lock-In Award-winning The Edison Escape Room. If you’re a traveling player, this is your chance to visit Palace Games!
  • Room Escape Artist will be traveling to San Francisco, CA for the Immersive Design Summit February 22-23, 2019. We will be hosting a meetup for escape room fans while we are in town. Stay tuned for details.

Santa Monica, CA

  • Red Bull Mind Gamers Escape Room World Championship starts the new year with another US Qualifier, this Saturday, February 2, at the Red Bull eSports Studio in Santa Monica, CA. There are still open spots if you want to sign up!

Temecula, CA

  • Mindtrap in Temecula (Southern California) has opened a new location with 2 new games and 2 more coming soon.

Sarasota, FL

  • Lokey’s Escape Rooms opens February 14 in Sarasota, FL. It will offer 24-hour access (with off-the-schedule booking options), private rooms, and immersive experiences.

New Orleans, LA

  • Room Escape Artist announced Escape, Immerse, Explore: New Orleans 2019. Join us July 12-14, 2019 to visit some of the most amazing escape rooms in the world including multiple Golden Lock-In Award winners such as 13th Gate Escape’s Cutthroat Cavern. Last summer’s tour to New Orleans sold out, but we didn’t want anyone to be left out, so we brought it back again for 2019!

Saugus, MA

  • Wicked Escapes, known for The Great Museum Heist Caper Job, has closed their Saugus location. They are focusing on building games for other companies. We look forward to seeing what they build next.

Kalamazoo, MI

  • Clock N Lock Escape Rooms has opened a new Amelia Earhart-themed escape room in Kalamazoo, MI. Amelia’s Attic Escape Room challenges 4-8 players to find evidence that Amelia Earhart was living in hiding.

Apex, NC

  • Apex NC has its first escape room: Whole Brain Escape. It features 2 rooms: Bustin’ out of the Eighties and Escape the Supervillain’s Lair.

Wharton, NJ

New York, NY

  • On February 11, 2019, Room Escape Artist is teaming up with No Proscenium to bring you this winter’s New York City Meetup for Everything Immersive. This event is for those interested in, passionate about, or working within immersive arts & entertainment in New York City. We’re calling all creators, storytellers, directors, engineers, artists, designers, writers, performers, event planners, producers, and more. Lovers of immersive entertainment are welcome as well. Please RSVP on Facebook.
  • Myss Tic has opened the room Montauk Project in Brooklyn, NY.
  • Shipwrecked in Brooklyn has opened three 30-minute escape rooms.

Corpus Christi, TX

  • There is a new escape room aboard the USS Lexington. Set aboard a real World War II aircraft carrier and based in part on actual historic events, Beat the Blast asks players to locate the nuclear bomb aboard the USS Lexington Museum, defuse it, and save the world.

Awards

Participate

  • If you design/manage/fund live-action games (i.e. escape rooms), please take part in this thesis research survey. Jerald Belich, designer of Utopia at Riddle Room in Minneapolis, MN and MFA candidate at Miami University, is conducting this research to better understand needs for immersive tools! You must have completed 2 projects and worked on a related project within the last 2 years to participate in the survey.
  • The Immersive Design Summit has launched the Industry Survey 2019. The immersive entertainment industry uniquely combines decades-old disciplines with modern-day experiential entertainment, connecting audiences to artistic works with resonating emotional impact. If you create escape rooms or any other types of immersive entertainment, please contribute to this effort to quantify this impact for summary in an annual industry report.
  • Submissions are open for IndieCade 2019. IndieCade accepts games of all genres, on all platforms, in all languages, and encourages works in progress. They would love more escape room creators to submit to this independent gaming conference. Learn more about IndieCade.

Celebrity News

Coldplay singer Chris Martin with his daughters in 60 Out's Red Alert escape room.

How To Submit News

Share your own news here!

News items include:

  • Facility openings & closings
  • Game openings & closings
  • Special events
  • Escape room-related products
  • Escape room-related intrigue of all sorts
  • Celebrity visits (if you have a post-game photo that we can publish)
  • Escape room pieces in the general press

Send us your newsworthy information via our news submission form:

Thoughts on WatchMoJo’s “Top 10 Craziest Escape Rooms Around the World”

This is what happens when you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing, but make sweeping declarations anyway.

The YouTube viral movie mill WatchMojo decided to “contribute” to the escape room world by putting out a video declaring the “Top 10 Craziest Escape Rooms Around the World.” This thing is fraught with problems.

We’ll start with the wide variety of mistakes that demonstrate how little the writer(s) knew of the subject matter. Then we’ll suggest thoughts on how these companies really ended up this list.

Shifting Premise?

It’s clear that WatchMoJo didn’t even know the subject of their own video.

It’s titled “Top 10 Craziest Escape Rooms Around the World.”

In the opening few minutes, it declares that this is a top 10 list of “the most unique, challenging, and elaborately-themed escape rooms.”

By the end of the film, they declare their number 1 choice as “the greatest escape room in the world.”

Leonardo Decaprio meme reads, "Cheers for creating an argument without a valid premise."

The lists of the craziest, most unique, most challenging, most elaborately-themed, and greatest escape rooms should be different lists. At REA, we’re partial to innovative escape rooms.

Golden Lock-In?!

It’s a strange experience feeling both honored and cringey at the same time.

WatchMoJo called out that Sherlocked in Amsterdam won a Golden Lock-In Award for their game, The Vault. Cool. Thanks.

The Vault won in 2017 though, not 2018.

Unfortunately, the writer(s) never seemed to look up what the award was. They mischaracterized it as being given to one company, as a declaration of the best escape room company in the world.

Sherlocked wasn’t even the only Golden Lock-In Award winning company on their list. Claustrophobia won in 2016 for Vault 13. The Escape Game won one too, in 2018, the day before this video published, for Playground.

The kicker, however, is when the narrator says, “while The Vault at Sherlocked more than won a Golden Lock-In Award, our vote for the greatest escape room in the world goes to The Basement in California.” You know who also won a Golden Lock-In Award in 2017? The Basement.

Hulk with glasses meme reads, "The Credible Hulk always cites his sources."

They also forgot to mention who gave the award. Is it necessary? No. Would it have been really kind of them to share a bit of love? Yeah.

The Escape Game

The increasingly prolific and generally consistent chain The Escape Game got a shoutout at number 5.

We’re fans of The Escape Game. We even gave it an award. (See above.)

The problem with The Escape Game’s listing on the WatchMoJo video is that their examples aren’t from The Escape Game! We have played every single game that The Escape Game has to offer (we have the t-shirts to prove it) and none of the games listed in that segment are theirs.

Wonka fizzy lifting drinks meme reads, "you get nothing, you lose! Good day sir!"

I know it’s 2019, but just a teeny, tiny amount of fact checking would have been lovely.

While we’re on the subject of companies…

Escape Rooms or Companies?

When we view a list of the “Top 10 Craziest Escape Rooms Around the World,” we expect a list of games. Instead what we were treated to a list of escape room companies.

Princess Bride meme reads, "You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means."

Which is fine… that’s an acceptable list to generate, but it isn’t what was promised.

Where Did This List Come From?

For reference, here is the list of companies.

We’ve played and reviewed games by 8 of the 10 companies on this list. At 7 of them, we’ve reviewed multiple games. And we’ve reviewed every game that the company has to offer at 5 of them.

We respect something about every one of the companies on this list. Some were early pioneers. Some have made some of the most impressive games we’ve played.

We’re not here to crap on these companies.

But this selection – be it as “craziest” or something else – is nonsense.

Most of these are older companies (relative to other escape room businesses). They are well reviewed on TripAdvisor. Most of them are reasonably famous.

Mostly, it’s just a list of escape room companies that have generated a lot of revenue.

The Bottom-Line

Most of these companies represent escape rooms well in 2019. This is good given how many people watch WatchMoJo.

It’s sad, however, to see such a poorly researched, weakly constructed, and factually flawed video.

We could rattle off lists of crazy, unique, challenging, elaborately-themed, or greatest escape rooms (whatever that even means)… and maybe we’ll assemble content like that… but this isn’t about that.

This is about asking for a little bit of care and research in content creation. I don’t know much about WatchMoJo, but I’d like to think that they’d agree that their viewers deserve better content.

Animated cat with monocle and pipe reads, "quality cat is not impressed."

February 11: New York City Meetup for Everything Immersive

We are looking forward to the next New York City Everything Immersive Meetup, co-hosted by Room Escape Artist and our friends at No Proscenium.

Stylized New York City skyline.

Details

Please RSVP on Facebook or by contacting us.

  • Monday, February 11
  • Starting at 6:00pm and continuing for a few hours
  • Shades of Green Pub (125 E 15th St between Irving Pl and 3rd Ave)
  • We will be congregating in the back room

Location

Note that this is a new location for the Everything Immersive Meetup.

We encourage attendees to order food and drink from Shades of Green Pub. They are kind enough to host this meetup without charging a cover. We’d like to support their business.

Additionally, Shades of Green Pub requests that we limit checks to 1 per table. Please order as a group on one tab and take advantage of Venmo, Paypal… or cash (most immersive method of payment).

Who Attends?

This event is for those interested in, passionate about, or working within immersive arts & entertainment in New York City. We’re calling all creators, storytellers, directors, engineers, artists, designers, writers, performers, event planners, producers, and more.

Lovers of immersive entertainment are certainly welcome as well.

It’s a chance to meet us, and Kathryn, who interviewed us on No Proscenium, and lots of friends whom we’ve meet through these websites.

Why Attend?

If you are an escape room creator or designer, we encourage you expand your horizons by meeting those working in other types of immersive entertainment. We’ve learned so much from this group of people.

In our experience, the Everything Immersive Meetup is a wonderful place to meet new people and exchange ideas.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Chatting with No Proscenium about our 2019 Escape, Immerse, Explore tours

No Proscenium's purple "NP" logo.

Our friends at No Proscenium are curious about all sorts of immersive entertainment… including escape room tours!

We recently spoke with Kathryn Yu, No Proscenium’s Managing Editor & NYC Curator, about Escape, Immerse, Explore.

Kathryn asks great questions. We talk about why we started these tours and what we have in store for 2019, among other things.

Join us for Escape, Immerse Explore: The Palace (in San Francisco) and/or Escape, Immerse Explore: New Orleans this summer.

If Kathryn’s interview doesn’t answer your questions, please contact us.

Play Classic Carmen Sandiego for Free

Today Netflix released a brand new Carmen Sandiego cartoon.

The iconic and classic Carmen Sandiego logo.

As a kid, I loved Carmen Sandiego in every form of media that I encountered:

  • MS DOS games
  • Game shows
  • Cartoon

The new show has completely reimagined the character. They have transformed her from a cunning villain into what looks like something of an anti-hero.

I have no respect for any “Why did they change it? My childhood is ruined!” nonsense. This is for kids, not people in their 30s. I’m just happy that the character is back and hope that they continue to teach geography and history through amusing crime adventures.

Playing The Old Games

That being said, I was also really excited to find that the Internet Archive has a library of browser-based emulators that allow people to play all sorts of ancient video games for free.

It was a fun stroll down memory lane.

This archive includes a ton of Carmen Sandiego titles.

There is a lot more on the Internet Archive and their library also includes other classics like Snood, Colossal Cave Adventure, and Super Solvers Treasure Mountain… which might be the first puzzle game that I ever played. I have no idea how that one holds up. I might have to give it a whirl one day just to see.

It is really strange playing these old games. It’s amazing how far video games have come in 30 years.

Our Editorial for Escape Front

With the start of a new year, we reflected on the opportunities and cautions we see in the escape room industry in a guest post for Escape Front.

Escape Front's antique warded key logo.

Discussion Topics

We discussed safety, first and foremost. Safety is on our minds right now, in the wake of the tragedy in Poland and will be a feature in Room Escape Artist reviews in 2019.

We also discussed the following topics that we see as essential to the growth of this industry in 2019:

  • the evolving definition of “escape room”
  • the importance of community
  • the uptick in escape room closures
  • how to design and build for success
  • new avenues for theming
  • why we love collaborations

We’ll likely unpack some of these concepts more at Room Escape Artist as the year goes on.

Thank you to Escape Front for the opportunity to contribute Escape Rooms in 2019: Opportunities & Cautions.